May 24, 2008 / 8:34 PM / 10 years ago

Shark attack kills Mexican surfer on Pacific beach

ACAPULCO, Mexico (Reuters) - A shark killed a 21-year-old surfer off a Mexican Pacific coast beach, police said on Saturday, the second fatal shark attack in the area in less than a month.

Mexican Osvaldo Mata, a student at a nearby university, was surfing with friends near the resort town of Zihuatanejo on Friday when a shark grabbed him, bit off one of his hands and took two bites out of his thigh, a police spokeswoman said.

His friends paddled him back to shore, a few yards (meters) away, but he lost consciousness and died before medics arrived.

“Two witnesses, his friends who were swimming with him, told us they saw a 2-meter (6-foot) shark attack him and pull him underwater,” a police spokeswoman for the state of Guerrero said.

The attack, at a beach called Pantla around 12 miles (20 km) from Zihuatanejo, happened less than a month after American tourist Adrian Ruiz, 24, died from a shark bite while surfing at Troncones beach, a few miles away.

Zihuatanejo’s civil protection director, Jaime Vazquez, said surfers at Pantla beach saw fins in the sea shortly before the attack, which he said broke Mata’s femur and left a 12-inch (30-cm) wound in his thigh, causing him to bleed to death.

Pantla and Troncones beaches are around 150 miles from Acapulco, Mexico’s best-known Pacific resort and a magnet for some 6 million Mexican and foreign tourists each year.

The attacks have alarmed residents of coastal resorts in Mexico, where fatal shark attacks are rare. The last shark death in Mexico was in the Caribbean in 1997, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File.

No one had been killed by a shark on Mexico’s Pacific coast in over 30 years, according to the museum’s records.

Additional reporting by Catherine Bremer and Adriana Barrera; Writing by Catherine Bremer; Editing by Eric Beech

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